Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense

Bob Holmes. Norton, $26.95 (320) ISBN 978-0-393-24442-7
In this mouthwatering work, New Scientist correspondent Holmes turns the kitchen into a laboratory, probing the nature of gustatorial delight to find better ways to think and talk about the foods we enjoy (or don’t). Holmes opens by carefully walking readers through what flavor actually is, which turns out to be much more than just the sense of taste. Taste is vital because it helps a person detect immediately what will supply carbohydrates (sweet), electrolytes (salt), and protein (umami) while avoiding poisons (bitter) and food that has gone bad (sour). Most people understand that scent is a component of flavor, but sight, sound, touch, and even mental states such as expectation play into the way we perceive our foods. Holmes also addresses the ways in which flavor potentially affects appetite, as scientists remain undecided on that question. He takes a fascinating and mildly disturbing foray into the industrial flavor industry and shares what gives certain foods their particular flavor. He concludes by taking a look at the way chefs and amateurs cooks combine flavors. He encourages gastronomic appreciation, since “almost anyone can get better at appreciating flavor.” As Holmes runs through terrific experiments and describes strange technologies, he makes food science fun and approachable. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2017
Release date: 04/25/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1664-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-6664-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-393-24443-4
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